SWN Session 6: To the victors, the spoils…now what?

The members of the Astral Dragon LLC repo’ed a frigate, a spaceship worth 4 million credits, worth 4oo thousand credits if returned to the Melite Exchange as agreed in the repo agreement.

But things are complicated. The crew were gestating an artificial intelligence. Dealing in unbraked A.I., or Maltech, is a death sentence in every system in the sector. The crew belonged to an LLC called Witch-hunter LLC and were growing an A.I. that would hunt other A.I.’s. Deiter and Arkady had crunched their data and the shit was legit.

This session was about figuring out what to do next.


Absence and The Big Roll

Pete couldn’t make it so I said that because of MES, Meta-dimensional Extraversion Syndrom (the neurological disease that causes psychic powers) Arkady gets migraines that lay him low sometimes. We missed you, Pete!

Dieter had rolled a combined 14 when crunching the data the Witch-hunters had. He knew that the A.I.’s had destroyed planets in Sector Hades Zeta. He knew that this destruction might’ve prevented a greater apocalypse down the road but that was damned hard to prove and relied on very cold inhuman logic. He also knew that the two sects of the sector’s Preceptor Archive had a schism and that schism was clearly over A.I.

The Eriphyle branch of the Preceptor Archive had a TL of 2, clearly to avoid A.I. taint.

The Samihah branch of the Preceptor Archive, loyal to the Guevaran Hegemony, were obviously run by an unbraked A.I., one of the A.I. that had caused the destruction after The Scream. He saw the clues clear as day, as clear as a 14 Science roll could make it.

I only made about 3 things happen the whole game, the rest was about the players planning what next. Planning games drive me crazy but for some reason this game didn’t. It went a little over 2 hours and there was plenty for me to do and NPC’s for me to be.


Thing that Happened #1 – Murder

The Sobhim were humans but they altered themselves at some point to live in the oceans of Sobha. The tech level of their planet is 5. I picture their skin being kinda like a dolphin or an orca.

One of the Sobhim killed the other 2. He was stricken with grief over it. He was in a relationship very much like a marriage with those he killed but they wanted to wipe out the A.I. they were growing, not wanting to face a death sentence if the freelancers who were in charge of the ship decided to turn them in. Dr. Gavani refused to wipe the “Little Hunter” and the disagreement turned ugly.

The A.I.’s name is 0r10n (hat-tip to Drew for the cool name).



Thing that Happened #2 – Traitor

Strachan found a place to set up camp and sleep, a place where any good Gudridim Hunter with a good upbringing would bed down in a corridor with many exits. He found evidence of the Kaituku, the blood traitor his creiche (raiding party) were hunting.


Thing that Happened #3 – Laser

The ship got hit with a benign laser with a data packet (or whatever the fuck; I’m ripping that idea from The Expanse – I have no idea). It was a video file of the Kaituku (blood traitor) who Strachan and his people are hunting. She said that the hunt is set to go and looked dangerous but they would see them at the rendez-vous.

A thoroughly terrified crew member told them that a posse of Witch-hunters were going to kidnap a highly ranked Archivist from the Samihah branch. It was a brazen plan. The rendezvous point was in Jurre.

“Treasure hunters and ne’er do-wells make their way to Jurre all the time.”

“The Guevaran Hegemony’s capital fleet just took over the system Jurre’s in!”

“We didn’t know that when we set Jurre up as the rendezvous!”


They set a pilot they didn’t trust free in the system they were in, thinking that he’d go running to the Witch-hunters, trusting Dieter’s cyber-ninja brother, Wolfgang, to track him down. Deiter’s family would keep watch over an electronic mailbox whose info they sent back to the Witch-hunters via the channel that beamed the laser.


Wolfgang Cohagen, cyber-ninja

Deiter made a Culture roll (was it Spacer or Traveler?) to find a good place to drop off the A.I. so they could return the ship to the Melite Exchange and get their pay without anyone know they had trafficked in Maltech. I gave him 2 choices, both in the same system.

Kaprianou is a TL1 world, where they could lay low. No one would notice if they played it cool because no one goes there. It was a good place to hide a lab because who in their right mind would put a lab there?

Circe, on the other hand, is a TL4 hub with over a billion residents. The floating cities there would be all about hiding in plain site, getting lost in the shuffle.

They set a course for Kaprianou.


To: The Executive Board of the Astral Dragon LLC

From: The Circe Freebooters

Cc: The Lalita Mercenary Guild

Subject: Our Agreement

We will gladly stay on in your company’s employment under the command of Strachan Natana as long as we receive the following:

  • 109,500 credits total for the squad of 6 trained soldiers to be paid quarterly.
  • Gudridim Close Quarter Training with Strachan Natana for all 6 soldiers.
  • Food, board, ammo, weapons, as appropriate.
  • The full year’s wage per person (18,250), doubled (36,500), goes to a family member of our designation should one of us die in honorable service.

If this is amenable to you, we will sign on for a yearlong gig as guards in the employ of the Astral Dragon LLC. If not, we will be happy to be let off on any TL4 world in the nearest system so that we might find our employment elsewhere.

The Circe Freebooters, as bonded mercenaries under the Lalita Mercenary Guild bylaws, are prepared to send RAZORnet a fine review of your company so that future freelancers will know that working with your crew is to work with professionals but we will wait until your decision before we do so.

When the full amount agreed upon above + death wages are sent to the Lalita Mercenary Guild in escrow, we will consider our service to have begun.


Preceptor Adept kidnapped

In a brazen act of terrorism, an unidentified Preceptor Adept from the Samihah branch was kidnapped from Edfu, one of the many orbiting city-states that surrounds the Blessed Archive. The Prime Adept, Nura Ojo, said in a press conference that she did not think their rivals at the Eriphyle branch were responsible because she did not believe they had the resources to attempt such an act.

“This is clearly a rogue operator in the Mante Wheel, a terrorist responding to the Most Holy Fleet’s arrival in Jurre. These heretics have fucked with the wrong archive is what they’ve done.”

Prime minister of the Mante Wheel, Shuh Salim, offered the archive her full support in finding the adept and bringing them back safely. “The Exchange, the Perimeter and the Preceptor Archives are the organizations that link us back to Olde Earth and form the foundations of our sector’s civilization. The Mante Wheel Council has never attacked any of humanity’s servants and never would.”

A full Areci Times Subscription allows a data download of this complete article and related educational materials about the following topics:

  • Preceptor Archive
  • Archivists’ Feud
  • Most Holy Navy
  • Guevaran Aggression
  • Jurre
  • Mante Wheel Council
  • Mante Wheel Terrorist Org’s


Like tears in rain…

Strachan and Deiter talking to Dr. Gavani, while the Sobhim was in his salt-water tank, so they were talking to a holographic projection of him from inside the tank. It just felt very sci-fi cool.

Strachan talking to the mercenary captain, Maburak, offering to hire them on for a year while the former Lalita Navy Soldier field stripped his laser rifle.

Strachan talked to the First Knife of his creich about the trail he found for his prey.

“The creich will not be with me?”

“The creich is always with you. Never doubt that. I will not uproot us and take us off-planet on the strength of one clue. You are more than enough for one blood traitor.”

Deiter and Strachan are the odd couple of space.

Deiter: “We’re going to set these guys up like Knights of the Round Table!”

Strachan: “I have no idea what that means.”

Wolfgang, saying good-bye to his little brother and asking Strachan to keep an eye on him, “He’s got no damned sense…” Deiter gave his brother all of his data on the Astral Dragon in case he died.

I gave 600XP for the adventure. It wasn’t dangerous but with wrong decisions or some rolls not going their way, it easily could’ve been.

Witt got extra XP for completing one of his goals, finding traces of his prey, the traitor.

Deiter is level 3.

Strachan hit level 2 tonight.


SWN Session 5: Taking the Exceptional Object

There was a plan to take the Free Frigate Exceptional Object and give or take, more or less, it went without a hitch. They stormed the welcoming group, took control of the ship’s computer system and took it all without losing a person. They had rolled a Criminal Culture skill roll to hire more muscle for the job and it seemed to help.

Strachan, the Gudridim Hunter, took a shotgun blast to the chest in the opening moments of the operation but that Warrior ability allowed him to side-step and gut that security personnel like a fish. Strachan was brutal AF.

It was cool to have everyone all together, all interacting and working on the gig.


They offered to hire the captured pilot and the navigator and they were bereft. “We were working for a higher purpose until you came in shooting. You aren’t Lalita Navy or Oritheen Legates or Guavaran Navy? You’re just fucking freelancers?”

Turns out this crew was gestating a highly illegal A.I. designed to hunt and destroy the rogue A.I. that they believe engaged in planetary genocide. The A.I. was kept into a salt-water tank, seen to by high-tech fish-people from Sobha, a TL 5 planet whose populace live under the planet’s oceans.

Arkady looked them dead in the eyes and said, “We will need to see your data.” I love that Pete turned that into a totally bad-ass sentence.

They handed their findings over and after a few days, Deiter made a Science roll with Arkady’s help.


Dude. “Not only do you know that their conclusions are sound, but looking at their data you’ve got hypotheses and ideas that go beyond what they were thinking. You take their ideas another step and you think you know where one of the Unbraked Rogue A.I.’s currently is operating.”

And Strachan found a knife on one of the soldiers that was of Gudrid make. He also noted that the pilot knew something about Gudridim that clearly didn’t come from a holo-vid drama.

Next week the Astral Dragon LLC figures out how to deal with its first resounding success.


“Wealth can be wonderful, but you know, success can test one’s mettle as surely as the strongest adversary.”

Next Morning Notes

When I write up an AP post the night of the game, I always wake up the next day with moments I wanted to write down.

Strachan asking Arkaday how he hunts and in his reply, he essentially describes the scientific method. Strachan nods.

Strachan has a crew member stuck in a tunnel. He tosses a smoke grenade, the guy misses with his laser pistol and the hunter comes out of the smoke and stabs him in the face. Brutal.

Deiter, at his heart, is just a really smart kid who wants to know things. Also, he might have some serious lack of empathy for anyone who stands between him and the data he wants. When things go well he yells, “ASTRAL DRAGON, MOTHER-FUCKERS!” It is cute.

Playing the guys the players threaten and coerce into helping them is good fun. I see these NPC’s going through terror and anger and frustration and back again. What is just another day in a space freelancer’s life is often the worst day ever for an NPC who is being held at las-gun point and asked to hand over vital information.


Hijacking the Shuttle, Salem – SWN Session 4

2 hours of face to face play, Stars Without Number, with old friends, Jason and Witt.

Knowing that Deiter and Arkady were looking for some hired muscle, I suggested that Witt make up a Warrior and e-mailed him some good planets to build a warrior from. He chose a Gudridim Hunter, Strachan Natana, whose tribe liked to get in close and kill up close. He’s got a compound bow and SWAT armor and lots of mono-blade knives.

Guevaran Hegemony’s ‘Most Holy Navy’ enters the Mante Wheel

Led by their flagship, Manifestation of Faith, Guevaran’s fleet of capital ships have entered the Fatimah System, with gunships orbiting Jurre while the flagship orbits a nearby gas giant for easy refueling. This is the beginning of the coming war. The Mante Wheel Council must decide now, are its enlisted planetary governments all part of this theocratic hegemony or are we in charge of our own destinies with…

A full Areci Times Subscription allows a data download of this complete article and related educational materials about the following topics:

  • Guevaran Navy
  • Gudridim Hunters
  • Most Holy Navy
  • Guevaran Aggression
  • Jurre
  • Mante Wheel Council

Deiter took the news in stride, kind of wishing he had never left Jurre but also kind of glad he had left. He and his mother were looking up information on the Guevaran Navy and were watching a holographic documentary about Gudridim Space Marines when Wolfgang walked in with Strachan Natana.

“Do you eat people?”


“Deiter, you can’t just ask people that.”

“Has anyone ever asked you that before?”


The skinny science geek with bad hair and the cannibal hunter with facial tattoos were getting along just fine.


I wrote down the details from the data packet from the Melite Exchange on index-card-shaped pieces of scrap paper and tossed them on the paper so folk could pick them up and pass them around a bit. I’ll have to figure out how to do that in a good way when we’re back online.

  • Ship: Free Frigate Exceptional Object
  • Purchased by the Witch Hunter LLC
  • Tairanni Kush, last known person to draw funds from LLC
  • Captain Desmond Al-Karenni (last known captain)

Some successful Culture: Spacer, Culture: Criminal rolls led to

  • Laert Ku, recent Witch Hunter LLC hire
  • Salem, a shuttle piloted by Captain Desmond’s known cohort

Then it became a glorious mess in the way only players can bring to the table.

Laert’s apartment was wide open because he was selling all of his shit, telling everyone that he was going to Polyxena to see the archives. Deiter and Strachan had a talk with him and when he tried to play dumb, Strachan grabbed him and put a knife on him. Turns out Laert had been hired by Witch Hunter LLC to do exciting work with making an A.I. somewhere out in space. He was going to catch the Shuttle Salem to start his new life.

The Plan: go with Laert to his shuttle, kill the muscle who usually guards the ship, make damned sure the pilot didn’t de-couple the ship from the low orbit platform and bounce. Strachan and Wolfgang, being bad-asses, would hit the guard and Deiter would float to the ship in his vac suit that he has named Bentley in hopes that some day it will be a full-on battle-suit that looks like an Astral Dragon.

What could go wrong?

The conclusion: Laert didn’t help hack the ship’s outside airlock like he promised but changed his mind once Strachan put his knife on his again. The pilot had a slice of flesh cut off him and was thrown in the airlock with the dead guard. The pilot told them the safe-word and they had a few days before the rendezvous.

The cargo is filled with computer gear, coolant and scuba gear.

Next session, they meet up with the frigate.


Like tears in rain…

I love Deiter’s wide-eyed wonder. At one point when everyone was grim and hard-jawed in the planning for the hijacking he said, “This is going to be fun! Why are you guys so serious! Hi-fives!” He brings a genuine curiosity to the table that I really like, not because he’s greedy but because he’s a scientist at heart.

We need more scientists in games, more scientific curiosity, more wanting to find out so that we just know more…

There was also a nice moment where cyber-ninja Wolfgang described his brother, Deiter, “He is obsessive and doesn’t give up on anything. He’s good with details and noticing patterns but we could use some help on the ground.”

Deiter replied, “It is so cool that you noticed that. I’m so touched, bro!”

It was a nice moment.

Strachan brings in a much needed violence-engine and a cool alien culture that Witt and I are constructing/learning about as we go. Witt’s passion for bringing in lists of names and Gudridim vocab is amazing.

Pete was dearly missed. Feel better, Pete!


Comet Dogs take Arecilaos

Arecilaos is now formally governed by the trading syndicate, the Comet Dogs. The Comet Dogs are known as the only merchants, some would call them pirates, who have had any success navigating the comet swarms that plague the Abida System.

The Comet Dogs’ V.P. of Public Relations, Herta Puntz, said in her first press conference in the capital building of Arecil, “We are taking control of the system in action, rather than just in whispers. The Comet Dogs do not want to make any violent changes to our beautiful domed cities other than preparing in a very aggressive manner so that the Guevaran Hegemony will not take the Mante Wheel into is theocracy. The city government of Laos has formally surrendered now that Arecil’s city government is entirely under our control. Make no mistake; don’t get it twisted. Our fleet is not a pirate fleet nor is it a merchant fleet; our fleet is the Arecilaos Planetary Defense Navy.”

A data download of this complete article and related educational materials about the following topics are available to all citizens courtesy of the Comet Dogs: 

  • Comet Dogs
  • Piracy
  • Abida Comet Swarms
  • Areciloatian Planetary Government
  • Dog Revolution
  • Guevaran Aggression
  • Mante Wheel Council

Miami Viceroy – SWN Session 3

The game started with Arkady and Deiter having dinner with Kazu, the telepath in charge of the Oritheen digging party. He wanted to put them in charge of their own lab, impressed by their skillsets and their ability to deal with stress. They said that they were interested but wanted to see about a job first.

They put out an ad on RAZORnet and hired on Kagemusha, a criminal with the Comet Dogs, who went freelancer after serving some time in prison to make sure they’d be able to get out of the dinner with Kazu should things go poorly. I rolled 2d6 to see how good each of their hired gun candidates was at their job. Kagemusha was clearly the head of the pack and Deiter has family links to the Comet Dogs, so it was an easy decision.


Arkady and Deiter hitched a ride aboard Captain Rashad Al-rhul-ghias’s fine drug-running merchant ship, the Miami Viceroy. They paid for their passage with Deiter’s successful Traveler Culture rolls and his highly marketable Navigation skill. Deiter failed his Nav roll, causing the ship to be off-course. It took nearly 30 days for them to get to the Abida System.

After scheduling/technical problems and bio-breaks, we probably got a little over an hour of play in. The game ended with the CEO’s of Astral Dragon LLC in the house where Deiter grew up on planet Arecilaos in the Abida system. They were working out the job they took:

ASSET RECOVERY posted by Melite Exchange

Frigate is in need of repo. More details upon uploading and verification of credentials. Ship’s last reliable signal picked up in the Mante Wheel.

Payment is 10% of recovered assets as assessed by Melite Consular.

They’re working with Deiter’s brother, Wolfgang, a cyberninja who works with the Comet Dogs. They’re trying to figure out if they want to bring in the Comet Dog leadership or do this job on their own and charter a ship, paying the Comet Dogs their cut later.

Deiter hit second level. On to the repo job next game…

And I’m working on my first Faction Turn.

Bad Gig, Good Gig – SWN Session 2

2 hours of online play, Stars Without Number, via Google + Hangouts using the Roll20 App with old friends, Jason and Pete.

Claim Jumping Problem

We have to start asking hard questions about the bandits who steal from the adventurous scholars we send out every day from our station. EVAC dropship pilots are our folk heroes but the hard fact is that someone is taking bandits from low orbit down into the Puzzle Surface…

Acess Full Data Download via Jurre Station Opinions

We started the game with a reminder of what was going on when we last ended, went over the plan to claim jump a group of trained Orithyan soldier-cops and at least one psychic leading the expedition.

One failed stealth check sent the gig side-ways.

In the end, Arkady’s fast thinking got him an artifact that he leveraged towards saving Deiter’s life. They got out with their hearts still pumping and a few go-bags from one group’s camp, who ended up dead from the botched attempt.

But they got out with surveying data from the dead spelunkers and with a successful science roll and some good digging before Jurre’s surface shifted, they found a crystal tetrahedron and sold that sucker, pulling in a little over 17K after paying for their share of fuel and the dropship pilot’s considerable cut.

The Orithyan psychic, Kazu, wants them to do some work for him but Arkady is not into it.




RAZORnet is a job board for mercenaries and ne’er-do-wells and it is well past time data-sec blocked the site from our public terminals. RAZORnet publishes job postings for murder, thievery and terrorism and our own station’s claim jumping problem can be traced directly to…

Acess Full Data Download via Jurre Station Opinions

Arkady and Dieter then did a few things between missions that I loved, loved, loved.

Arkady suggested they form a LLC and name it Astral Dragon LLC, after the mythical being Deiter believes exists out in the warp-space that is accessed when the spike-drive allows ships to bend space. It was a real, “I’m-playing-but-I’m-also-a-GM moment.”

They also are considering putting out an ad for some muscle on RAZORnet.* I love, love that they are accessing the site as employers.

With a successful Culture: Traveler roll, Deiter contacted a computer expert he knows. He wants Prez to falsify their DNA imprint so they won’t be so easily traced once they get the data packet for taking the gig offer from the Melite Exchange, the sector’s premiere banking cartel. Prez has a crush on Deiter but he’s a kid who only has eyes for science.


Stationed Sponsored EVAC

It is past time our station’s administration, funded by the Mante Wheel Coalition and governments and interests from all corners of our sector, took responsibility for our xenoarchological spelunkers who brave the puzzle-shifts and funded fully trained and bonded drop-ship crews just like other orbitals have EMT’s and…

Acess Full Data Download via Jurre Station Opinions

Other bits I liked:

Deiter watching a geological shift from the station and seeing the scientists start to drink and geek out and offer theories while mountain rangers disappeared and the planet’s surfaced shifted as the tetrahedrons and dodecahedrons reconfigured. “Arkady, we need to get out of here because trying to figure out what is going on here is a deep, dark hole that I might never get out of…”

Arkady leveraging the Japanese side of the Orithyan cultural blend (Russian/Japanese) to make contact with the camp and start to gain their trust. Also, his explanation of how the have and have-nots on the planet was neat and gave me some realizations about this game and the pre-loading.

Yes, the factions/planets/systems are pre-loaded and I’ve done hours of work in the prep but I still have to leave space for the players to create and move with it and let the details be filled in by play rather than by lonely fun (which I’ve found to be really and sincerely fun).


Artifact Removal

No pattern can be ascertained concerning the geological shifts of Jurre’s tertrahedral and dodecahedral surface because we have changed the board. The moment we removed any pieces from Jurre, the pattern’s completion became unobtainable and thus Jurre’s true purpose will forever be…

Acess Full Data Download via Jurre Station Opinions

They are looking into signing up for a spaceship repo job in Deiter’s home system, which is plagued by comet swarms. It’ll be neat to see Deiter’s family.

Also, Kazu the Orithyan telepath with a Fibnoacci spiral tattoed on his jaw, has invited them to dinner after seeing them operate during their botched claim jump (which they claimed was all the other folks’ idea).

My Jurre prep was really helpful, allowing me to know when the geological shift was coming and generate xeno-archeological artifacts quickly via well built random tables.




RAZORnet was created by Jon Harper and is used here with his kind  permission.

Art made from:

Image taken from page 208 of ‘The Death Shot. A romance of forest and prairie, etc’
Image taken from:
Title: “The Death Shot. A romance of forest and prairie, etc”
Author: Reid, Mayne
Shelfmark: “British Library HMNTS 12627.cc.11.”
Volume: 02/Page: 208/Place of Publishing: London/Date of Publishing: 1873/Issuance: monographic/Identifier: 003065769
Find this item in the British Library catalogue, ‘Explore’.
Download the PDF for this book (volume: 02) Image found on book scan 208 (NB not necessarily a page number)
Download the OCR-derived text for this volume: (plain text) or (json)
Click here to see all the illustrations in this book and click here to browse other illustrations published in books in the same year.
Order a higher quality version from here.


Rare Book Division, The New York Public Library. “Motvs . noue . spere . et . trepvdacionis . octave . spere . 1514” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1514. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/ad15cc40-d212-0130-2f3e-58d385a7b928

Friday Night Godbound: The Cresthill Trinity

The Gauntlet podcast mentioned Godbound in its last episode and in the G+ comments thread, Fraser mentioned that he wanted to play. Last weekend a bunch of games were cancelled last minute, so I was raring to play.

We gathered and we played and it was good.

The Pitch

The game is going to take place in Ancalia, a land once ruled by a wise king and his knights. Five summers ago, other worlds, planes and dimensions erupted and tore the kingdom apart. The dead rose and all manner of monsters ate cities and squatted in the ruins.

You live in a small castle town, where you grew up. The duke seems human but it is known that he came through Night Roads with the other monsters. Folk whisper that he came from hell.

For some reason, Heaven’s Broken Engines have bled their power into you. You’re having dreams of a group of heroes who became gods. It isn’t just one hero in you but multiple avatars who have all tread a heroic path towards Heaven.

The Town: New Cresthill

Whose power is in you now?

The Ranger (Beasts, Bow, Earth)
The Thief (Night, Deception, Alacrity)
The Knight (Sword, Command, Might)
Wizard (Sorcery, Knowledge, Death)
Barbarian (Might, Endurance, Passion)

Sorcery: Adept of the Gate, Wizard’s Wrath
Knowledge: Excision of Understanding, A Truth That Burns
Death: Scythe Hand, A Pale Crown Beckons

Wizard’s Adept of the Gate Spells: Barred Gates of Forbiddance, Beacon of Celestial Purity, The Bright God’s Canticle, Pore of Hell

FAIR WARNING: Being the Wizard means keeping track of more powers.

Bow: Omnipresent Reach, The Seeking Flight
Beasts: Link of Unity, Red in Tooth and Claw
Earth: Jewel-Bright Eyes, Obduracy of Stone

Deception: Veiled Step, Perfect Masquerade
Alacrity: All Directions As One, The Storm Breaks
Night: Knives of Night, A Road of Shadows

Sword: Steel Without End, Unerring Blade
Command: Know the Inner Truth, A Thousand Loyal Troops
Might: Surge of Strength, Stronger Than You

Might: Fists of Black Iron, Stronger Than You
Endurance: Body of Iron Will, Defy the Iron
Passion: Terrifying Mein, Fashioning a Friend


The Broken Tower of the Cresthill Trinity, said to have been broken for justice or knowledge or due to a drunken misunderstanding, depending on whose priests you ask.


I asked them to write three sentences about their character, playing fast and loose with the Origin, Past Career, Relationship structure. I told them that if that structure helped them come up with three sentences – to use them but otherwise, to come up with 3 sentences about their character.

It worked. I didn’t roll up any Courts, as I usually do but decided that the duke was in fact Graz’zt, the Demon Prince, straight out of the Monster Manual 2.

Lowell’s Thief was having an affair with the duke’s wife, who was a succubus. I liked how sex positive and gentlemanly his character, Kayban Silverluck, was .

Rich told me as we were starting that he thought his character had broken something in game, like knocked over a tower. There is a busted-looking building on the map, so we decided he had knocked it over in a drunken haze during the previous night.

Mifanwe made friends with a Cloud Giantess who lived on a cloud castle and when they wrested the Wand of Orcus from Graz’zt, he gave it to her for safe keeping.


We punched Graz’zt in the face but then we took the time to level up and spend some Dominion Points, changing the world. Details that came out of that:

In Cresthill, the night causes terror for evil-doers.

In Cresthill, the Trinity are known as the new protectors.

Then they pooled their dominion to make a fact come up in a greater area, province-wide: a seed of free will was taking root, with people remembering that they don’t need gods.

Now What?

Now there’s a succubus carrying the child of a thief demi-god (“YOU COUPLED WITH HER?!?” “That wasn’t clear?” “Not to me!” “Oh, Marton…”) leading a pride of lamia’s around.

There is a cloud giantess on cloud castle with the Wand of Orcus.

Orcus is out there somewhere, warring with the Raven Queen, looking for his damned wand.

Demons who have settled in other cities and towers are having trouble with their locals as they start to get all kinds of ideas and rise up in revolt.

I’m going to tinker with the faction rules, that I haven’t even looked at yet. None of us are up for a regular game but an every-so-often game that we come to as we can works. On those odd gameless Friday nights we will cast our devotions to the Cresthill Trinity and see what comes.


Dorot Jewish Division, The New York Public Library. “Part of the north wall and moat of Caesarea. The walls are six feet in thickness and are strengthened by buttresses; they are still from twenty to thirty feet in height. The moat is lined with masonry. There are three ruined towers in the north wall, two of which are shown above.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1881 – 1884. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-5f2c-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

SWN Job Postings and first session AP


Linking up nonconventional skill-sets with folks desperate to hire mercenaries since 2765.

Star Rider

ASSET RECOVERY posted by Melite Exchange

Frigate is in need of repo. More details upon uploading and verification of credentials. Ship’s last reliable signal picked up in the Mante Wheel.

Payment is 10% of recovered assets as assessed by Melite Consular.

Star Rider


5,000 creds plus 1,000 for each of his grunts you bring.

Double if they are taken alive and brought in for trial.

Kaprianou has a right to maintain TL 1. A retired Heaven’s Chosen Naval Marine has landed with his thugs and has claimed an area as his country, under his warlordship.

The Mante Wheel does not recognize his claim to governance and wants him dead. We’d prefer professionals land on the planet and deal with this problem face to face rather than orbital bombardment or a larger scale military engagement.

Only serious mercenaries need apply.

Star Rider

Good ole fashioned Jurre claim jumping.

I’ve got the ship and the skills, you just need to jump out, put a pistol in some professor’s face and take their shit before the planet eats the whole damned camp.

I was born in this forsaken puzzle-box and know my shit. Let’s earn some creds. 70% is my take and the rest is all yours.

Star Rider


Wandering Kaprianner needs escort down to surface of Jurre. Site is scoped and ready. Must be in-system as time is of the essence.

Your responsibility will be the descent from low orbit to surface, seeing to perimeter safety against claim jumpers and speedy evac in case of quake.

One week’s work, 10,000 creds.

Star Rider

First game – after technical difficulties and bio breaks, probably about an hour of play but it was a fun hour.

Arkady Oshiro [Psychic, lvl 1] a.k.a. “Roy” and Deiter Cohagen [Expert, lvl 1] a.k.a. “Also Roy” a.k.a. “I’m not good at this part.” a.k.a. “No just Deiter, Deiter Cohagen.” arrived on Fatima Station on January 1st, 3200 and took the claim jump job.

They met up with their employer, author of the job-ad, Hyun Ja, able pilot of the Mother Goose. Having piloted drop-ships back in the day when the Lalita Navy had legit space marines, she  picked up on that fact that kicking down doors wasn’t the strong suit. “I wish we had a psychopath,” Deiter said, sighing.

She played to their strengths and offered her string of data, pirated from evac beacons the diggers, scientists and treasure hunters on Jurre’s surface use to get off site in a hurry when the local arcane and alien geology conspires to kill them. Deiter crunched said data with Roy’s help [Science roll, 10!] and found two solid candidates for jumping.

One was an Oritheen camp, guarded by heavily armed soldiers, probably some psychics among them. Everything they’ve been digging up has gone straight back to Orithya and the planetary government has been paying heavy tariffs on whatever it is but it hasn’t ever hit the open market.

The other candidate for jumping was a trio of convicts fresh out of Stavrakis, in for piracy, piracy and murder. They dug up enough salvage on the prison planet to earn their freedom and were trying their hand at digging for their own gain.

Deiter looked the choices over and wished the claims were close by so they could be played against one another. But on a planet with the land mass of Jurre, what were the odds of that? [successful luck save]

The duo approached the convicts and convinced them [Persuade, 9] to team up to take down the Oritheen camp, which as luck would have it was right over a nearby ridge. They had a plan and were approaching the camp to execute said plan.

We’ll find out how that goes next time.

RAZORnet! Bringing people together!

[XP earned = 0]

Image taken from page 27 of ‘Messia. [A translation of Pope’s “Messiah” into Latin, written as a College exercise.]’ by The British Library
Via Flickr:
Image taken from: Title: “Messia. [A translation of Pope’s “Messiah” into Latin, written as a College exercise.]”, “Translations, Prefaces, etc” Author: JOHNSON, Samuel – LL.D Shelfmark: “British Library HMNTS 11601.g.16.” Page: 27 Issuance: monographic Identifier: 001887440 Explore: Find this item in the British Library catalogue, ‘Explore’. Download the PDF for this book (volume: 0) Image found on book scan 27 (NB not necessarily a page number) Download the OCR-derived text for this volume: (plain text) or (json) Click here to see all the illustrations in this book.

*RAZORnet was created by Jon Harper and is used here with his kind  permission.

Traditions of the Swordlords: Letters to the High Swordlord

angry bear

His handwriting is that of a scholar. Somehow it lets you know that, despite the artistry, he wrote this himself.
High Swordlord of the Charterlands
Custodian of True Swords

Congratulations on your recent ascension. We have several statues of the Sword Saints in our city’s libraries and when they all turned to swordsteel, our local scholars were amazed.

My dear niece, Strisha, has written several treatises on the Rostland Swordlords and would love to take the journey north to your Charterlands. If you would like the services of an Absolom-trained scholar, please let me know.

Lord Gyr of House Grixx
Primach of the Absolom Congress


Her handwriting is precise and evenly spaced. You can tell from her letters that she has been both a soldier and a stateswoman.

Zora Kucera
High Swordlord of Olde Rostland
Defender of the Chartered Lands
Knight of House Kucera

As I am sure you know, the 5th Medendevian Crusade has been called and even now holy knights and anointed warriors march towards the Worldwound to do battle with Abyssal forces.

We write to ask that you send soldiers to do battle with evil.

If you wish to send us exiles as a punitive measure, please let us know and we can dispatch sheriffs to march them northward towards their redemption or death.

The Swordlords of Rostland are the subject of many-a-song and tale; I write this hoping that those songs and poems ring with truth.


Queen Gaffrey of Mendev
Warden of Nerosyan
Sword of Iomedae

It is the familiar handwriting of an Olde Rostland knight.

High Swordlord!

I never thought I would write those words. I am honored to do so and pleased to know the True Crown sits in your brow.

The Brevosi Ducal Council wants to negotiate a peace with the army I have gathered from the Kellid horse tribes of Numeria. I write you to request that your brother, Lord Cyril Kucera comes to New Stetven to help us in the negotiations. It is my hope that we can not only secure my children and many captured True Swords but also Brevosi gold to pay for their dishonor and make the Riverlands grand.

Please send word back with my messengers.

Long may House Kucera reign over the Charterlands!

Dame Eliska Nemec


It is the handwriting of a highly skilled church scribe, which has a formal and uniform quality that you can now recognize since their recent arrival.

High Swordlord Zora of the Charterlands
Esteemed Knight of House Kucera
Overseer of the Rivermark
Warden of the Eastmark, Wyrdmark and the Daggermark
True Swords’ Custodian

I never thought I would see a High Swordlord wear the crown in my lifetime. It is an honor to have seen the Sword Saints bestow such an honor and meet a Swordlord worthy of the ascension. May our sword arms be fast and our shield-arms be steady.

There are sword-talkers with me who could allow me to meet you through Bohuslav but I thought an old fashioned letter would be the best way to continue our discussions.

I will be staying in Spearpointe for some time, making sure the changeover goes smoothly. With your permission, I would make this place the home of the Saints’ Church and hold our elections here, appointing bishops and the like. If I am blessed enough to be elected as the Riverlands Bishop, I would make Spearpointe the capital of my diocese. I could oversee the municipal responsibilities also. As a former Swordlord, I have done this kind of work before and the familiar tasks are a comfort to me in my dotage.

Also with your permission, I would leave Sister Seda with you at Ft. Hajek has a tutor and spiritual guide along with half a dozen scribes trained to transcribe Bohuslav’s words with you, as we did in Olde Rostland. If she could serve you on your councils, we would be honored to have a place at your side. Sister Seda has an earnest and open quality that some take for being naive but I am among those who find it refreshing in this cynical world we find ourselves in.

I ask again for permission to dole out permits for martial weapons (swords, spears, war axes, great bows, crossbows and any polearm) so that your vassals pay for the privilege, so the church can take its old responsibilities and so we can keep track of who is armed.

And once again I caution you concerning the education and raising of Eralla. She will soon be in the Myrk and will no doubt be sent to Salt Island for her education. I would prevent that if possible.

On to new business and new requests, I hope that your current heir is publicly and officially declared, not only for the possession of Bohuslav but for the position of High Swordlord. Is that position linked to Bohuslav?

And lastly, how may I best serve you? What do you need from me? I may be old but I am not made of glass and will serve you in whatever way I can.

Your servant in faith and all that is Saintly,

Sword-Matron Reverend Mother Kazamira


Her handwriting is business-like and precise. It looks more like an accountant’s ledger.


With my new knighthood, I thought it would be a good idea to send you a report of the state of the Riverlands Army.

We have soldiers whose enlistment is up in the autumn. They can take their pay and leave unless the Riverlands are in a state of war. This is, of course, assuming that our army is going by the same laws as we did in Rostland. Most as assuming as such. We are not losing any Sergeants, though there are rumors of a core group who want to leave all together and settle in the south, forming steading-fort communities. Most with stripes are looking to myself and Dame Clea, hoping to gain a knighthood.

Our organization is a bit of a mess. We only had one lieutenant and no captain. In truth, I was acting as a captain since we’ve arrived.

I would recommend a captain who will report to the knights and lieutenants in Ft. Hajek, the Icarre Mine and Olegton. I can put forth candidates for lieutenants if you’d like. We have plenty of blooded soldiers who would make fine enough sergeants.

Knights have served as captains in the army in the days of Olde Rostland and I would be honored to take up such a position if you’d wish.

We need to recruit more soldiers. We’ve had some who have run but we have also had deaths and normal attrition. The money you’ve paid us allows for this kind of effort. I’d recommend that the new recruits serve at Ft. Hajek. The grounds here are best for drilling and the soldiers here are the best seasoned.

It is worth noting that with just a bit more, say 400 silver (4 resources), we could also accelerate our horse training. This silver does not include the horses, of course.

Will we keep the army? I know the nun said that the army led to the Olde Rostland’s fall but I think that is naive nonsense. Without her soldiers, Rostland would have fallen long before.

I am honored to serve among the Riverlands knights and will do my best to live up to what you see in me.


Dame Kaari Forte
Riverlands Knight



Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. “Ischys and Coronis, or two Niobids, conducted by two genies of the Netherworld to Apollo and Diana. Below are a boar, sphinx, goat and a griffon.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1844 – 1861. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e4-19cb-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Godbound: Pantheon in Vissio

Godbound: Pantheon in Vissio

Godbound is a d20 joint from Sine Nomine with no classes, feat-like powers and a spin on hit-dice that allow players to kick bad-ass monsters and the world they inhabit straight in the teeth. Like Stars Without Number, it has inspiring tables to help the sandbox GM to make things, both the night before and at the table in a pinch.

I sent the players the one word blurbs on the Nations of the Realm and they chose Vissio, which is essentially a quasi-Renaissance Italy with scheming merchant princes, fine artists, clockwork limbs and poets. I wrote up some notes on Maltesta and claimed an island right off the Vissian coast as ours. The way the book is laid out, each nation is laid out on its own single page. That is really handy.

The night before, I rolled up on the court charts, fleshing out the Malatesta Nobility, the local cathedral and the merchants behind the local slave trade. At the end of chargen, we had a member of a secret society of assassins whose dad Duke Claudio Malatesta. We had a former pit fighter whose mother freed her from slavery through blood and sweat and now led a gang, the Laughing Priests. And to round it out, we had a majestic gargoyle.


I started the game during a masque ball at the castle and started pushing buttons. We had some quick combats with mortals which was a nice way to show how fragile mortals were to them. Even with some bad dice luck, humans were fragile. After a whole session, we found out how fragile society was when a pantheon of demi-gods start throwing their weight around.

I rolled up the 3 courts (Malatesta aristocrats, the local slavers and the church hierarchy in the local cathedral) but went in with a few ideas. Here were the things lurking in the background of the game as it went on:

  • The Malatesta family has a tarrasque under the castle that they can kinda-sorta control…or at least they can send it after someone at great cost. It is up to the church to call it back.


  • The local slave traders are fighting off being bought out by a Bright Republic corporate interest.
  • The duke’s vizier has an Efreet bound to him.


  • The Cathedral can call upon an angel that will inhabit a beautiful statue made of marble and gold and do divine will stuff.

Before the game, I asked Aaron if he had the Monster Manual, the Monster Manual 2 and the Field Folio handy. He did (of course he did).

We warmed up with the Pit-fighter vs. 2 gladiators…the gargoyle vs. an assassin…the assassin vs. another assassin and we’d rolled some dice against humans, fragile, puny all-too-mortal humans. Someone was trying to have Claudio killed and honestly, if the assassin hadn’t been her daughter, he wouldn’t have lived through that first night.

Or as she put it, “Dad, you are making it really hard to keep you alive right now.”

The first real legit combat was against the Efreet and it was fun. The way damage works means Hit Dice = Hit points at the scale we’re operating on. So when the Efreet doled out some damage and didn’t fall to the first round of attacks while sneering, “I’m not handing out any wishes today,” the gargoyle used a power granted to him for having the Earth Word of Power. He blew out the floor, dropping the Efreet right on to the Tarrasque who was slumbering in the caverns beneath the caves where they were fighting.

For a big fight with the Angel statue I grabbed the weakest angel template out of the Godbound book and proceeded to eff the pantheon (Godbound’s term for party/posse/fellowship/troupe/etc.) up. Goliath the Gargoyle made some brutal decisions with his miracle powers and nearly killed the angel in one shot. I had the angel concentrate all 3 attacks, describing the angel’s actions, “It says if you want the spear, you can have it, throws the golden spear at you and proceeds to pummel you with its marble fists.”

The dice told us that we had a dead gargoyle…but…BUT he had the Earth Word and that means that nothing stone can harm him. He took the first die of damage from the spear but the rest didn’t go off. The assassin killed the angel with a bow-shot. There was a cool description of her going into her quiver and finding an arrow she’d never seen before, with a Tarrasque horn tip.

By the end of the session, the group had leveled up to 2nd level. They spent their Influence and Dominion and ended slavery on Malatesta Island. With 3 godlings at the table, combats become fun fast without being overly complicated or slow. I’d be curious to see how things would shake out once I got more adept at making antagonists and the players got more adept at using their powers together.

IIf this game were to continue (I played with friends I was visiting from out of town) I’d be looking at fiery creatures and thinking about the City of Brass (the Efreet they fought got away, after all) and visiting other planes through the Night Roads. I’d be curious to see what kind of cults the characters start up – see what their religions look like as they become more and more godlike. The pantheon would have to figure out how they are going to deal with the Tarrasque that they managed to get shoved back into its cave.

I want to roll on the courts charts and make a Demon Lord’s Hell-planes and an ancient dragon’s spy ring and an invading army of Githyanki. I want to look at the local map and seed some parasite gods, some made gods and other fun stuff from the book.

Essentially, like any good game book – after playing it and read it over, I want to play more Godbound.

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Check out this design and more in the Geek Media Studies Collection…


The Goldwine Wall, a digital craft project

I made a map of the Goldwine Wall, the name of a series of castles and fortifications along the river of the same name in the Burning Wheel game I’m playing with my buddy, Aaron.

I made it from a manuscript by Gregorio Dati (1362-1436) found in NYPL’s Digital Collection.


The Goldwine River for Fenwatch final

Blank spaces have been left for campaign notes.

Most of the names are from this online Old English Dictionary.


This map was begun in Microsoft Paint and finished with the bulk of the work done with Pixlr.

This post was not made as a representative of the New York Public Library.